The aim of this INTERREG project is to improve the profitability on dairy farms through extensive knowledge exchange over the French-Belgian border. The project is focused on increasing nitrogen efficiency. France and Belgium use different feed evaluation systems, both of which are also changing over time. The different systems result hinder the comparison of feedstuff evaluation on one side and ration calculations on the other side. This often results in incoherent recommendations and in some cases large differences in the amount of additional concentrate that farmers provide to their cows. Besides the different evaluation systems, the project also focuses on the valorization of on-farm harvested or regional protein sources.
In this cross-border French-Belgian project PROTECOW, European funds of the INTERREG V program have joined 5 organizations that specialize in technical and economical advice or research & development. The projects plans 3 types of action: 1. Set-up of a cross-border club in which dairy farmers can exchange knowledge and experience with colleagues over the border. Sharing acquired knowledge over the borders enables all dairy farmers in the region to successfully use the available knowledge. 2. Direct exchange of research results to farmers: new results on the use of protein rich feedstuffs (protein correction) will directly be adapted on dairy farms within the project. 3. Joint visits of advisors from the 3 regions at the same dairy farms. These actions aim to link research more directly with farmers and create a more direct comparison of the recommendations across the border.
We expect a fast knowledge build-up and improvement at the level of dairy diet composition because of the use of a “hands-on” approach and because of the intensive contacts between research, counseling and practice. Eighteen dairy farmers are intensively followed up within the project. During the project, project partners will present their research results to dairy farmers on 8 cross-border meetings. The summary end report of each work package and the planned articles in the specialized farmer’s journals will surely result in improvements for the farmers in the whole region even if they are not directly involved in the project.